Parents and Civil Liberties Groups Urge School District to Terminate Use of Tracking Devices
NOTE: This is a press release from the ACLU of Northern California that EFF is recirculating for your information.
San Francisco - Parents in a northern California public school district and civil liberties groups are urging a school district to terminate the mandatory use of Radio Frequency Identification tags (RFIDs) by students. Several civil liberties groups, including the ACLU of Northern California (ACLU-NC), Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) sent a letter today expressing alarm at the Brittan School District's use of mandatory ID badges that include a RFID device that tracks the students' movements. The device transmits private information to a computer on campus whenever a student passes under one of the scanners. The ID badges also include the student's name, photo, grade, school name, class year and the four-digit school ID number. Students are required to prominently display the badges by wearing them around the neck at all times.
"Forcing my child to be tracked with a RFID device – without our consent or knowledge – is a complete invasion of our privacy," said Michael and Dawn Cantrall. "Our 7th grader came home wearing the ID badge prominently displayed around her neck– if a predator wanted to target my child, the mandatory school ID card has just made that task easier." The Cantralls filed a formal complaint against the Brittan Elementary School Board in Sutter, California on January 30th after meeting with several school officials.
In a letter dated February 7, sent to the Brittan Board of Trustees, the civil liberties groups "urge the school board to recognize the serious safety and civil liberties implications" and call the for the School Board to "terminate this ill-advised test immediately."
"We are sending the letter today because a School Board meeting is scheduled for tomorrow night and we want to make sure that the District reconsiders the issue," said Nicole Ozer, Technology and Civil Liberties Policy Director of the ACLU-NC. "RFID technology is inappropriate for use in schools. The badges jeopardize the safety and security of children by broadcasting identity and location information to anyone with a chip reader and subjects students to demeaning tracking of their movements."
"The monitoring of children with RFID tags is comparable to the tracking of cattle, shipment pallets, or very dangerous criminals in high-security prisons. Compelling children to be constantly tracked with RFID-trackable identity badges breaches their right to privacy and dignity as human beings. Forcing children to wear badges around their necks displaying such sensitive information as their name, picture, grade and school exposes them to potential discrimination since the name of their school may disclose their religious beliefs or social class," said Cédric Laurant, Policy Counsel with EPIC.
Jeffrey and Michele Tatro, parents of a thirteen-year-old student at Brittan Elementary School, added: "It is our goal that no child in the United States be tagged or tracked. We want it to be stopped here, in Sutter California, and we don't want any child to be tracked anywhere. Our children are not pieces of inventory."
"It is dehumanizing to force these children to wear RFIDs, and their parents are rightfully outraged," said Electronic Frontier Foundation senior staff attorney Lee Tien. "We are doing everything we can to support the parents in this fight to protect student privacy."
Get more information about RFIDs in schools.
Media Relations Director
ACLU of Northern California
Media Coordinator/Policy Analyst
Electronic Frontier Foundation